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“Yeah, promises, right? Just like the government promised to try and help the incident zones out? Just like the people in the unaffected areas said they’d protest for us. Just like you agency spooks said you’d do something about the mutants in the past,” I say and grimace.
“I never heard the agency say anything like that.” The interviewer looks up and smirks at me and I let out a small laugh.
“Well, fuck me, you’re a funny guy. What’s your name asshole?”
“Just call me, Chapman.”
“Okay, Chapman. Good to put a name to that ugly face of yours if we’re going to be getting to know each other a bit better, right? Well, where the fuck was I? Right, spilling the beans to you assholes on the promise you might actually do something good with your otherwise scumbag lifestyle.”
“Easy, Cutty,” Chapman says as another agency lackey comes in and hands us both a coffee.
I take a sip, cold and bitter, put it down and run my hands through my hair, take a deep breath. “Fuck it. You know, there’s a lot of these guys out there, they call them the regulators. I’m sure you’ve got some sort of file on them buried away. They cross the gap between the mutant gang underworld and the human black market. Goods exchanged, only a lot of those goods aren’t the sort of things you’d like to consider even on a bad day. Sure, there’s always been human trafficking, but this shit goes way deeper, way darker. Part of their rituals, part of the power they have, there’s shit that they’re doing that I’m sure you fuckers would love to get your hands on.”
Chapman puts his coffee down, leans in, across the table. “What is it, Cutty? We need details.”
“Memories. The ones that have the power, they can pull memories out of people, put them into others, that’s what they’re trading, memories, experiences, lives lived, and humans outside the incident zones will pay big time to get a bit of that juice, but you know what you need to transport a memory? An experience? A vessel. Shit. Anyway, I guess I got lucky. One of the regulators in the San Rio area, the Self-Taught Man they call him, he’s an old high-school buddy of mine, well was anyway. From way back, before the incidents, when there were still schools. Sure, I could have brought him in a dozen times on a dozen charges, but I let him slide, you know? He wasn’t an informer really but he kept me in the loop and when I needed to know something, I knew I could count on him, so when Carla went missing, I knew exactly who I needed to go to. Call in those favours you know, what the hell else was I going to do?”
“Got a death-wish don’t you, Cutty?” Chapman raises an eyebrow.
I just stare at him. “I go to the regulator, and he immediately knows why I’m there. Sort of thing that I’ve tried to chase before, but this time I’m serious, this time I’m going all the fucking way. So, I ask him for the needle.”
This really gets Chapman’s attention, he leans forward on the edge of his seat. “We’ve heard rumours.”
“It’s true, they’ve made a serum, get the needle and you’ll start to turn. It might take a day, might take a month, most don’t survive it, those that do mostly just turn into regular mutants with all the illness and death that comes with it. Some though…” I pause and shake my head.
“Some get a fraction of what they can do. Some get the power. A taste of it,” I look up. “And then there’s no going back.